Alice Chen Set to Compete in Inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship
Chen—who, alongside her Furman teammate and fellow New Jerseyan Taylor Totland, won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship—is seen here teeing off on Shinnecock Hills’ 10th hole in the inaugural Celebration of Champions during U.S. Open week in 2018.
Every golfer dreams of making the drive down Magnolia Lane. This April, Princeton, N.J., native and Furman University graduate Alice Chen will do just that. As one of the top 30 Americans in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of 2018, Chen earned an invitation to the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship—setting up a better-than-imagined finish to her highly accomplished amateur career.
How aware were you of the invitation criteria, and what was your reaction to receiving the invitation?
I was very aware of the invitation criteria as soon as it came out last year. I was hopeful because my WAGR ranking was well within the Top 30 ranked American players. However, after some poor play this summer, I really didn't think my ranking would remain high enough to be invited. Especially as some good finishes from my fall season two years ago would soon be leaving the ranking system as well. The hope of being invited dwindled and I honestly forgot about the tournament until November or so. I was shocked I was still within the bubble when I checked one day. I counted my ranking among American players an embarrassing amount of times after I realized I still had a chance if rankings didn't change too much. I knew the numbers were there but I wasn't convinced I received an invitation until it was in my hands. When I got it in the mail, it was very special to open it with my parents by my side. The invitation itself was beautiful and I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude to receive this opportunity.
How have you been preparing to compete in the inaugural August National Women’s Amateur?
I have been working out a lot to improve my strength, endurance, mobility, and stability. All of these are important and are the basis for increasing swing speed which I've also been diligent about improving. I've also noticed how improving my physical fitness has sharpened my positive self talk and my confidence as an athlete. This is not an area I've been disciplined about before until this off season, so I'm very proud of the work I've put in these last few months and I look forward to shifting my training to being mostly back on the golf course soon.
Any one aspect of your game you’ve been focusing on?
I will be focusing on course management and being a better player overall. I tend to get in my own way by being too much of a perfectionist while competing and I want to get better at getting away from that tendency.
Have you been able to gain any sort of advice/insight from anyone who has played at Augusta National?
Not yet but I look forward to catching up with a few friends soon.
What are you most looking forward to about this opportunity?
I look forward to soaking up every bit of this experience. Few people get to be part of the first of anything so it's really cool to be part of history. I'm excited to drive down Magnolia Lane and hit shots from iconic spots where pros have made their mark in Masters history.
What will it mean to close out your amateur career with this sort of event?
I am convinced that God is faithful because I couldn't have scripted it any better. Even when I play poorly (like at stage 2 of LPGA/Symetra Q-school), he still turns it into something good, like being invited to play at Augusta and accepting the invitation. If I had played well at stage 2 and have more opportunities on the Symetra tour, it would be much harder to remain an amateur and miss out on a good portion of the Symetra season. For a while there I really didn't think I was going to be invited at all. There are plenty of little things that I couldn't control for me to play in this event. For that I am so grateful to have this opportunity and it will be all the more significant and important to me as it will be my last amateur event.